SGAUS Capital Hill

In Response to new National Guard Bureau Directive, SGAUS Lays Out Future Lobbying Plans


Just over a week ago, the National Guard Bureau unveiled a revised CNGBI 5500.01, a pivotal directive that delineates the interactions between the National Guard and State Defense Forces (SDF). Among its updates, two significant changes stood out, raising eyebrows and concerns within the military community. Firstly, the directive stipulates that U.S. Military Veterans who have been awarded a Combat Patch are now precluded from donning this emblem on their State Defense Force uniforms—a move that has surprised many.

Even more startling is the sweeping transformation prescribed for the SDF uniforms. In a marked departure from the past, State Defense Forces and State Guards are directed to abandon the uniform design akin to their National Guard counterparts. The changes are profound, especially regarding color schemes; transitioning from the traditional camouflage for nametapes, ranks, and headgear to a strikingly bright red color. This radical alteration in uniform aesthetics has sparked a considerable debate, with concerns that it may undermine the dignity and perceived professionalism of State Defense Force soldiers among their peers in the armed forces and the public they are sworn to protect. The fear is that such conspicuous and unconventional uniforms could engender skepticism and reluctance among civilians to engage with SDF personnel during critical state-wide emergencies, potentially jeopardizing lives and property. You can learn more about this change in our previous article – Click Here To Read.

Here is an example of the uniform change:

The State Guard Association of the United States (SGAUS) plays a pivotal role in bolstering and advocating for State Defense Forces across the country. Beyond its advocacy, SGAUS is instrumental in enhancing the proficiency of these forces through specialized training programs such as the Military Emergency Management Specialist (MEMS) certification. This certification equips soldiers with skills in emergency management and response. Additionally, SGAUS organizes an annual conference in various cities, featuring distinguished guests and panel discussions. These events focus on the collaborative efforts between State Defense Forces and the National Guard and share insights and recommendations to strengthen these forces further.

SGAUS’s advocacy extends to both federal and state levels, aiming to amplify the support and recognition of State Defense Forces/State Guards. Interestingly, in preliminary discussions with state officials regarding our lobbying program we discovered a lack of awareness about SGAUS, which was unexpected. As the cusp of the publication of directive CNGBI 5500.01 by the National Guard Bureau, the news came as a surprise to many within SGAUS. We were particularly taken aback by a comment from one of the board directors at SGAUS, who downplayed the significance of the uniform changes, suggesting they were “not a big deal.” This viewpoint starkly contrasts with ours, as we believe such changes will have profound implications across State Defense Forces/State Guards nationwide, as outlined in more detail in our follow-up article.

In response to the Directive change SGAUS contacted its members with the following:


SGAUS Executive Board Responds to NGB CNGBI 5500.01A

Click on the above heading to read NGB CNGBI 5500.01A
National Guard Bureau has issued its revised CNGBI 5500.01A dated 07 March 2024 that includes its “recommendations” for SDF uniforms. SGAUS’ policy response:

The decision of what uniform an SDF soldier wears is one for the state’s Governor and Adjutant General.

That said, NGB has taken a step to standardize uniforms across SDFs and offered a model for states to consider. We disagree with the direction of that step.

SGAUS’ position is straight-forward: We need to look similar to the National Guard with distinct differences already outlined in Army Regulation 670-1. However, these differences should not be so glaring as to cause confusion with the general public.

It is on that key issue that NGB leadership and SGAUS see with different lens.

The balance to be considered here is to create a “distinctive” uniform difference between SDF and Army National Guard uniforms, yet have an SDF uniform that is quickly recognized by the state civilians as an official military uniform with appropriate authority. If these proposed NGB drastic changes are made by a state, the concern is the SDF’s legitimacy and authority will be questioned by the state population when responding to state emergencies and will therefore become ineffective and at risk. Further, the concern is that if the SDF’s are at risk, then Guard suffers as well and also is at risk. The distinctive uniform differences should be sufficient enough for Guardsmen to identify SDF forces yet subtle enough for the civilian population to recognize the SDFs as state military forces.

NGB did soften its most controversial recommendation of a red ballcap, to read instead as a “solid-colored hat or cover.” But the Instruction then proceeded to highlight in its included illustration a red ballcap!

The red ballcap has come to symbolize the demeaning view of proud Title 32 state military soldiers held by some in the Army hierarchy, and NGB’s forced need to distinguish in the public’s eye SDF forces from “active duty military.”

As troublesome: The NGB guidance advises against the wearing of combat patches and Federal badges on SDF Army utility uniforms.

SGAUS believes removing badges and unit patches becomes not only a recruiting Issue but also eliminates a valid means of SDF members communicating their qualifications to Guardsmen. Many retired Guardsmen and veterans look at the SDF as an opportunity to continue their service to the state. Telling folks they can no longer wear them will result in losing SDF members who are the exact people we want in our SDF. In addition, wearing our earned badges provides others an idea of our background and capabilities. This improves our teamwork and interactions.

It is recommended that SDF members wear a unique unit patch and, if documented, members can wear a combat patch as well. In addition to Army badges, SDF members should also be allowed to wear their documented Air Force badges. This approach increases the comradery between SDF members and the Guardsmen we support in accomplishing their state missions.

We urge SDF commanders to talk to their TAGs about the self-conflicting and crippling guidance of the new NGB Instrucution and its impact on unit morale, recruitment and retention.

More to follow from SGAUS.


SGAUS Leadership Briefs Adjutants General Association of the United States
On 10 February 2024 SGAUS President Tim Ingram, Vice President Greg Juday, Education Committee Chair Jim Hardy, and Acting Executive Director Steve Estes traveled to Washington, D.C. to brief the Adjutants General Association of the United States (AGAUS) about the SGAUS mission, recent work done by SDFs, and plans for continued operations by SDFs in the future. This meeting was a first for SGAUS, and will certainly not be the last given the warm reception by AGAUS.

A group of approximately 100 in the audience including TAGs, deputies, retired TAGs, and additional staff members received the brief. The meeting was held at the Washington D.C. headquarters of the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS), an association that SGAUS leadership models and hopes to work with more in the future on areas of mutual benefit.
Summary slide of Title 32 authority and active SDFs presented to TAGs at the 10 February 2024 AGAUS brief.

The briefing focused on the roles that SDFs can fulfill according to Title 32, and how federal law allows states and their governors to utilize a uniformed military inside their borders for purposes of “defense.” Recently this mission is understood to be for Domestic Support of Civil Authories (DSCA) missions, which are usually defined as emergencies such as the COVID 19 response, weather and other national disasters, and other emergencies defined by the governor of the state.

VP Greg Juday then provided examples of how Maryland has done just this, citing recent successful deployments and missions carried out by the Maryland Defense Force.

Finally, Jim Hardy described how SGAUS provides training and support by using Federal Emergency Management Agency educational programs to standardize training for emergency responses among SDF service members.

SGAUS will meet in Washington, D.C. during the week of 08-12 April to continue to work with federal legislators to further the SDF mission. Stay tuned for more information as SGAUS works to support SDFs in the 50 states and 4 territories.

Based on our Lobbying efforts, by February 10 2024 it became clear that influencing the directive was impossible; it had already been approved by both The National Guard Bureau and the Adjutant Generals Council, merely awaiting the Chief of The National Guard’s final endorsement.

We are hopeful for the upcoming SGAUS April 08-12th meeting with Federal legislators but disagree with their direction. At this juncture, we believe the most effective course of action lies at the state level. By working with the Adjutant Generals in each state, we aim to challenge the proposed uniform modifications and advocate for the rights of members to wear their earned combat patches and Federal badges. You can assist us by becoming a Patreon member and supporting our cause. SGAUS focusing their efforts within Congress which currently is undergoing a great deal of difficulty passing laws would be fruitless.

In our efforts to amplify our impact, we sought to collaborate with the State Guard Association of the United States (SGAUS), proposing to pool our lobbying resources and expertise. Regrettably, our attempts to establish a more formal partnership with SGAUS have been met with limited engagement. Even simple initiatives, such as featuring a link to StateDefenseForce.com on the SGAUS website, encountered prolonged delays and ultimately, indecision. Despite these challenges, we remain committed to finding common ground and strengthening our collective advocacy for State Defense Forces.

Our hope is SGAUS contacts us, they have our contact information, so we can share resources and work the problem together. If you wish to reach out to The Head of SGAUS, Colonel (CA) Tim Ingram you can email him at tim.ingram@stanfordalumni.org.


We extend our gratitude to our sources who shared SGAUS’s reactions to this directive with us. We strongly encourage SGAUS not only to communicate these news updates to its members but also to make their positions and responses accessible to the wider public. This transparency allows both SGAUS members and the broader community to understand their strategic intentions. At StateDefenseForce.com, we are committed to openness in our advocacy efforts. Our Political Campaign section is freely available to both our Patreon supporters and the general public, ensuring everyone is informed about our lobbying activities and the measures we are taking.

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